Class of 2000, Double Paralympic Bronze Medallist
Alexandra Rickham represented Paralympics GB at three consecutive Paralympic Games and is a double Paralympic bronze medallist, including at Rio 2016. Alex returned to Freemen’s earlier this year to talk to students about her Paralympic success.
Alex is a big fan of sport, particularly tennis, and started sailing on her 11th birthday when her aunt took her sailing. Life changed, when Alex broke her neck in a diving accident in 1995.
Looking back, Alex is philosophical about her injury.
“Things happen for a reason. It was not my destiny, you make your own destiny, but it was something I dealt with and came out the other side”.
Alex credits Freemen’s with helping her.
“Freemen’s gave me so much. The first year was a hard year coming back after my accident. I had been away a year and then came back. It was a lot for school to deal with and it gave me a taste of reality. It toughened me up and meant I came back harder.”
Alex won her first bronze medal with Niki Birrell in London in 2012.
“I was over the moon, but that feeling disappeared. Obviously you know how amazing it is and what an amazing opportunity it is. It is something unique and so few people have that opportunity,” she explained to a group of Junior School students during her visit.
After winning bronze again in Rio, she can now value her medals.
Alex officially retired from sailing on 31 March 2017, as her sport will not be included in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
She is now looking for a new journey, possibly in something to do with the environment or still in sport. She explains that she is a very different person to who she was nine years ago and wonders what her new future will look like. She recently completed The Push, a fundraising challenge for the Back-Up Trust where her team, including two Old Freemen, conquered Mount Snowdon by pushing, climbing and wheeling to the summit and back down again.
Alex remembers a lot about her time at Freemen’s, from the initial friends she made at the school that she is still in contact with to the Chemistry department. Most off she remembers the “idyllic grounds”.
“I love Ashtead Park and the grounds. I still think of Main House and the rugby and cricket pitches. They made is easier to sit in class.”